|Publication number||US9101949 B2|
|Application number||US 11/610,402|
|Publication date||11 Aug 2015|
|Filing date||13 Dec 2006|
|Priority date||4 Aug 2005|
|Also published as||US20080054091, US20080093473, WO2008076717A1|
|Publication number||11610402, 610402, US 9101949 B2, US 9101949B2, US-B2-9101949, US9101949 B2, US9101949B2|
|Original Assignee||Eilaz Babaev|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (241), Classifications (10)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation-in-part of non-provisional U.S. application Ser. No. 11/197,915, filed Aug. 4, 2005 now abandoned, the teachings of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
The present invention relates to an ultrasound liquid atomization system capable of atomizing liquids, mixing liquids, and/or separating liquids from gases, liquids, solids, or any combination thereof suspended and/or dissolved within a liquid.
Liquid atomization is the process by which a quantity of liquid is broken apart into small droplets, also referred to as particles. Liquid atomizers have been utilized in a variety of applications. For instance, liquid atomizers have been utilized to apply various coatings to devices. Gasoline is injected into most modern engines by use of a liquid atomizer, often referred to as a fuel injector. Delivering therapeutic substances to the body as to treat asthma or wounds is often accomplished through the use of liquid atomizers.
Traditional liquid atomizers, such as those generally employed as fuel injectors, utilize pressure to disperse a liquid into smaller droplets. These injectors function by forcing a pressurized liquid through small orifices opening into a larger area. As the liquid passes from the small orifice into the larger area, the atomized liquid-increases in volume.
Conceptually, this is similar to the inflation of a balloon and can be represented by the equation:
According to the above equation, as the area into which a liquid is forced gets larger the volume of the liquid begins to increase. Thus as the liquid initially exits from the small orifice of a typical fuel injector, the liquid forms an expanding drop very similar to an inflating balloon. The liquid exiting from the injector is initially retained in the drop by the surface tension of the liquid on the surface of the drop, which is conceptually similar to the elastic of a balloon. Surface tension is created by the attraction between the molecules of the liquid located at the surface of the drop. As the volume of the liquid increases, the drop at the injector's orifice begins to expand. Expansion of the drop moves the molecules at the surface of the drop farther away from each other. Eventually, the molecules on the surface of the drop move far enough away from each other as to break the attractive forces holding the molecules together. When the attractive forces between the molecules are broken, the drop explodes like an over inflated balloon. Explosion of the drop releases several smaller droplets, thereby producing an atomized spray.
Atomized sprays can also be generated through the use of ultrasonic devices. These devices atomize liquids by exposing the liquid to be atomized to ultrasound, as to create ultrasonic vibrations within the liquid. The vibrations within the liquid cause molecules on the surface of the liquid to move about, disrupting the surface tension of the liquid. Disruption of the liquid's surface tension creates areas on the surface of the liquid with reduced or no surface tension, which are very similar to holes in a sieve, through which droplets of the liquid can escape. Devices utilizing this phenomenon to create a fog or mist are described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,017,282, U.S. Pat. No. 6,402,046, U.S. Pat. No. 6,237,525, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,922,247.
Disrupting the surface tension of a liquid with ultrasonic vibrations can also be utilized to expel a liquid through small orifices through which the liquid would not otherwise flow. In such devices the surface tension of the liquid holds the liquid back, like a dam, preventing it from flowing through the small channels. Exposing the liquid to ultrasound causes the liquid's molecules to vibrate, thereby disrupting the surface tension dam and allowing the liquid to flow through the orifice. This phenomenon is employed in inkjet print cartilages and the devices described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,086,617, U.S. Pat. No. 6,811,805, U.S. Pat. No. 6,845,759, U.S. Pat. No. 6,739,520, U.S. Pat. No. 6,530,370, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,996,903.
Ultrasonic vibrations have also been utilized to enhance liquid atomization in pressure atomizers such as fuel injectors. Again, the introduction of ultrasonic vibrations disrupts or weakens the surface tension holding the liquid together, making the liquid easier to atomize. Thus, exposing the liquid to ultrasonic vibrations as the liquid exits a pressure atomizer reduces the amount of pressure needed to atomize the liquid and/or allows for the use of a larger orifice. Injection devices utilizing ultrasound in this manner are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,543,700, U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,424, U.S. Pat. No. 5,868,153, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,803,106.
Atomizers relying on pressure, in whole or in part, to atomize liquids are sensitive to pressure changes in the environment into which the atomized liquid is to be injected. If the pressure of the environment increases, the effective pressure driving liquid atomization decreases. The decrease in the effective pressure driving and/or assisting liquid atomization occurs because the pressure within the environment pushes against the liquid as the liquid exits the atomizer, thereby hindering atomization and expulsion from the atomizer. Conversely, if the pressure of the environment into which the atomized liquid Is injected decreases, the effective pressure driving and/or assisting liquid atomization increases.
Ultrasonic waves traveling through a solid member, such as a rod, can also be utilized to atomize a liquid and propel the atomized liquid away from the member. Such devices function by dripping or otherwise placing the liquid to be atomized on the rod as ultrasonic waves travel through the rod. Clinging to the rod, the liquid is transported to the end of the rod by the ultrasonic vibrations within the rod. An everyday example of this phenomenon is a person attempting to pour water from a glass by holding the glass at a slight angle. Instead of the water pouring put of the glass and dropping straight down to the floor, the water clings to and runs along the external sides of the glass before falling from the glass to the floor. Similarly, the liquid to be atomized clings to the sides of an ultrasonically vibrating rod as the liquid is carried towards the end of the rod by ultrasonic waves traveling through the rod. Ultrasonic wave emanating from the tip of rod atomize and propel the liquid forward, away from the tip. Devices utilizing ultrasonic waves to atomize liquids in such a manner are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,761,729, U.S. Pat. No. 6,706,337, U.S. Pat. No. 8,663,554, U.S. Pat. No. 8,589,099, U.S. Pat. No. 6,247,525, U.S. Pat. No. 5,970,974, U.S. Pat. No. 5,179,923, U.S. Pat. No. 5,119,775, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,076,268.
In such devices, care must be utilized when delivering the liquid to the vibrating rod. For instance, if the liquid is dropped from to high of a point a majority of the liquid will bounce off the rod. The devices depicted in U.S. Pat. No. 5,582,348, U.S. Pat. No. 5,540,384, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,409,163 utilize a meniscus to gently deliver liquid to a vibrating rod. The meniscus holds the liquid to be atomized between the vibrating rod and the point of delivery by the attraction of the liquid to the rod and the point of delivery. As described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,540,384 to Erickson at al., creation of a meniscus requires careful construction and design of the liquid delivery point. Furthermore, if the delivery pressure of the liquid changes, the meniscus may be lost. For instance, if the delivery pressure suddenly increases, the liquid may become atomized before a meniscus can be formed. Destruction of the meniscus may also occur if the pressure outside the liquid delivery point suddenly changes. Thus, use of a meniscus to deliver a liquid to be atomized to a vibrating rod is generally limited to situations where the construction of the device, the design of the device, and the environment in which the device is used can be carefully monitored and controlled.
According there is a need for a liquid atomization system that enables the production and release of a consistent spray of an atomized liquid into an environment, despite changes in the pressure of the environment into which the atomized spray is injected.
The present invention relates to an ultrasound liquid atomization and/or separation system comprising an ultrasound atomizer and a liquid storage area in communication with said ultrasound atomizer. The system may further comprise an injector containing an injector body housing the ultrasound atomizer and a channel or plurality of channels running through said injector body and delivering liquids to said ultrasound atomizer. The ultrasound atomizer comprises an ultrasound transducer, an ultrasound tip at the distal end of said transducer, a liquid delivery orifice or plurality of liquid delivery orifices, and a radiation surface at the distal end of said tip. The atomizer may further comprise a liquid delivery collar comprising a liquid receiving orifice or a plurality of liquid receiving orifices and a liquid delivery orifice or plurality of liquid delivery orifices. The liquid delivery collar may further comprise a central orifice into which said ultrasound tip may be inserted. Electing and atomizing liquid in a pressure independent manner, the liquid atomization and/or separation system of the present invention enables the production and release of a consistent spray of liquid into an environment despite changes in pressure within the environment. Mixing liquids during injection and atomization, the system of the present invention also enables the production of hybrid liquid sprays. Atomizing liquids containing dissolved and/or suspended gasses liquids, solids, or any combination thereof, the present invention enables the separation of liquids from gasses, liquids, solids, or any combination thereof suspended and/or dissolved within said liquid.
The delivery collar of the ultrasound atomizer receives and expels a pressurized liquid. As the pressurized liquid leaves the narrow delivery orifice of the delivery collar it enters the larger area of the space between the collar and the ultrasound tip, thereby causing the volume of the liquid to expand like a balloon. Before the volume of the liquid becomes large enough to break the surface tension of the liquid causing the liquid to atomize, the liquid comes in contact with the ultrasound tip. Utilizing a phenomenon similar to capillary action, the ultrasound tip, when driven by the ultrasound transducer, pulls the liquid towards the radiation surface of the ultrasound tip. An everyday example of this phenomenon is a person attempting to pour water from a glass by holding the glass at a slight angle. Instead of the water pouring out of the glass and dropping straight down to the floor, the water clings to and runs along the external sides of the glass before falling from the glass to the floor. Similarly, the liquid to be atomized clings to the sides of the ultrasound tip as the liquid is carried towards the radiation surface by the ultrasonic waves traveling through the tip. Ultrasonic waves emanating from the radiation surface atomize and propel the liquid forward, away from the tip.
Carrying liquid away from the point at which the expanding drop of liquid contacts the ultrasound tip prevents further expansion of the drop, similar to a leak in a balloon. Mathematically, this effect can be represented by the following equation:
Thus, as the number of molecules within the expanding drop of liquid decreases the volume of the drop decreases, or at least stops expanding. Carrying liquid out of the drop and towards the radiation surface, the ultrasonic waves passing through the ultrasound tip decrease the number of the molecules within the drop. If the drop formed from the liquid released from the delivery orifice of the delivery collar stops expanding before the volume of the drop becomes large enough to break the liquid's surface tension, the liquid will not atomize as it is released from the delivery collar. Instead, a liquid conduit wig be created between the delivery collar and the ultrasound tip through which a liquid may be pulled from the delivery collar, down the ultrasound tip, towards the radiation surface.
Upon reaching the radiation surface, the liquid is atomized and propelled away from the tip by ultrasonic waves emanating from the radiation surface. Thus, ultrasonic waves traveling through the tip drive liquid delivery to the radiation surface, atomization at the radiation surface, and the ejection of atomized liquid from the tip. The spray emitted from the tip comprises small droplets of the delivered liquid, wherein the droplets are highly uniform in size throughout the resulting spray.
Once a liquid conduit has been created, the conduit will be preserved despite changes in the pressure within and/or outside the present invention. Furthermore, once the liquid conduit has been created, liquid delivery from the delivery collar to the radiation surface becomes driven by the ultrasonic waves passing through the ultrasound tip. When the delivered liquid reaches the radiation surface, the liquid is transformed into an atomized spray by the ultrasonic waves passing through the ultrasound tip and emanating from the radiation surface. Consequently, liquid delivery and atomization, once the liquid conduit has been established, is accomplished in a pressure independent manner and thus is relatively unaffected by changes in pressure within the environment into which the atomized liquid is injected. However, if the pressure within the environment into which the atomized liquid is injected becomes greater, by some factor, than the pressure forcing liquid from the delivery collar, then the liquid conduit will eventually dissipate.
Liquid flow from a delivery orifice, along the ultrasound tip, and towards the radiations surface is driven by ultrasonic waves passing through the tip. Increasing the rate at which liquid is drawn from a delivery orifice and flows towards the radiation surface can be accomplished by increasing the voltage driving the ultrasound transducer; allowing a larger volume of atomized liquid to be expelled from the tip per unit time. Conversely, decreasing the voltage driving the transducer decreases the rate of flow, reducing the volume of atomized liquid ejected from the tip per unit time. Increasing the voltage driving the ultrasound transducer also adjusts the width of the spray pattern. Consequently, increasing the driving voltage narrows the spray pattern while increasing the flow rate; delivering a larger, more focused volume of liquid. Changing the geometric conformation of the radiation surface alters the shape of the emitted spray pattern.
The system of the present invention may further comprise an injector containing an ultrasound atomizer. Use of an injector may make it easier to change and/or replace an ultrasound atomizer as to reconfigure and/or repair the system of the present invention. Incorporation of the atomizer into an injector is accomplished by coupling the liquid receiving orifices of the of an ultrasound atomizer to a channel in the injector through which liquid flows. Ideally, the entry of liquid into a channel within the injector and/or the flow of liquids through said channel are gated by some type of valve.
The atomizer may be mounted to the injector with a mounting bracket. Preferably, the mounting bracket is attached to the atomizer assembly on a nodal point of the ultrasound waves passing through the atomizer, as to minimize vibrations that may dislodge the atomizer from the injector. As to further minimize vibrations that may dislodge the atomizer from the injector, a compressible rang may be positioned distal and/or proximal to the mounting bracket. Wires supplying the driving energy to the ultrasound transducer may be threaded through a portion of the injector. The wires may terminate at a connector enabling the injector to be connected to a generator and/or power supply. The injector may also contain a-connector enabling the injector-ultrasound-atomizer assembly to be connected to a control unit and/or some other device controlling the opening and closing of valves within the injector.
When the ultrasound atomization system of the present invention is utilized to deliver gasoline into an engine, it provides several advantageous results. Finely atomizing and energizing gasoline delivered to the engine, the system of the present invention improves combustion of the gasoline while drastically reducing the amount of harmful emissions produced. Thus, gasoline delivered from the system of the present invention into an engine is almost, if not, completely and cleanly burned. Furthermore, when utilized to deliver fuel into an engine, the system of the present inventions enables the mixing of water and gasoline as to create a hybrid fuel that burns better than pure gasoline. Thus the system of the present invention, when utilized to deliver gasoline to an engine, reduces the production of harmful emissions and gasoline consumption by the engine.
The ultrasound atomization system of the present invention may further comprise at least one liquid storage area in fluid communication with the ultrasound atomizer. Pressure within the storage area may serve to deliver the liquid to be atomized to the ultrasound atomizer. Alternatively, the liquid to be atomized may be gravity feed from the storage area to the atomizer. Delivering liquid within the storage area to the atomizer may also be accomplished by incorporating a pump within the system.
The system may further comprise an electronic control unit (ECU), which may be programmable. If electronically controlled valves are included within the system, the ECU may be used to control the opening and closing of the valves. The use of such an ECU within the system enables the valves to be remotely opened and/or closed. This, in turn, enables the amount and ratio of liquid atomized and/or mixed by the system to be remotely adjusted and/or controlled during operation. This may prove advantageous when the liquid atomized and/or gasses, liquids, and/or solids (hereafter collectively referred to as material dissolved and/or suspended within the liquid atomized are reagents in a chemical reaction occurring after the material is ejected from the ultrasound tip, such as, but not limited to, combustion. Optimizing the efficiency of a chemical reaction requires maintaining a proper ratio of the reagents taking part in and/or consumed by the reaction.
Considering combustion as an example of a chemical reaction, a source of carbon such as, but not limited to, gasoline is reacted with oxygen producing heat, or energy, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and water. Both the amount of oxygen and gasoline present limit the amount of heat, or energy, produced. For instance, if the amount of gasoline present exceeds the amount of oxygen present, then the amount of gasoline burned, and consequently that amount of energy produced, will be restricted by the amount of oxygen present. Thus, if the there is not enough oxygen present, then all of the gasoline ejected from the ultrasound tip will not be burned and is therefore wasted. Conversely, if the amount of oxygen present exceeds the amount of the gasoline present, then all of the gasoline will be consumed and converted into energy. Monitoring the amount of reagents consumed by the reaction, the amount of product produced by the reaction, the amount of reagent present before the reaction occurs, and/or any combination thereof can be accomplished by incorporating a material sensor capable of detecting at least one of the reagents consumed and/or products produced. Having a material sensor communicate with the ECU enables the ECU to respond to an excess of a reagent by alternating the amount of time the valves of the system are open. Reducing the amount of time valves feeding the reagent in excess are open enables the ECU to reduce the amount of the excess reagent present and/or reduce the amount of unwanted product produced. Alternatively, increasing the amount of time valves feeding the reagents not in excess remain open enables the ECU to decrease the amount of excess reagent not consumed by the reaction and/or reduce the amount of unwanted product produced. In response to an excess reagent, the ECU may also increase the rate at which the pumps within the system feed the reagents not in excess to the atomizer, thereby increasing the amount reagent delivered to and from the ultrasound tip. The ECU may also act on pumps within the system as to reduce the rate at which the reagents in excess are delivered to the atomizer.
The ECU may also communicate with pumps within the system, as to control amount of pressure generated by the pumps. Increasing or decreasing the pressure at which the liquid to be atomized are delivered to the atomizer may be advantageous if the pressure of the environment into which the atomized liquid is to be injected changes during operation. Detecting pressures changes within the environment into which the atomized liquid is injected may be accomplished by incorporating a pressure sensor within the system. Having a pressure sensor communicate with the ECU enables the ECU to respond to such pressure changes by adjusting the amount of pressure generated by the system's pumps.
One aspect of the present invention may be to provide a means producing a consistent spray of an atomized liquid in an environment, despite changes in the pressure of the environment.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to provide a means releasing a consistent spray of an atomized liquid into an environment, despite changes in the pressure of the environment.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to enable the creation of highly atomized, continuous, uniform, and/or directed spray.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to enable interrupted atomization of liquid and use of the atomized liquid to produce a coating.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to enable interrupted atomization of liquid and use of the atomized liquid to produce a coating of a controllable thickness and free from webbing and stringing.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to provide a means of mixing liquids.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to enable the mixing of two or more unmixable liquids.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to provide a means of mixing liquids as the liquids atomized as to produce a hybrid liquid spray.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to enable interrupted mixing and/or atomization of different liquids and use of the mixed liquid to produce a coating on a device of a controllable thickness and free from webbing and stringing.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to enable continuous mixing and/or atomization of different liquids and use of the mixed liquid to produce a coating on a device of a controllable thickness and free from webbing and stringing.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to enable creation of a hybrid water-gasoline fuel.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to reduce the amount of harmful emissions created from the combustion of gasoline within an engine. Another aspect of the present invention may be to enhance the combustion of gasoline injected into an engine.
Another aspect of the present invention may be to provide a means of separating liquids from material suspended and/or dissolved within the liquid.
These and other aspects of the invention will become more apparent from the written description and figures below.
The present invention will be shown and described with reference to the drawings of preferred embodiments and dearly understood in details.
In keeping with
Facilitating the retention of the liquid to be atomized to tip 102 as the liquid travels down tip 102 towards radiation surface 107 can be accomplished by placing groove 108 in tip 102. Although groove 108 is depicted as a semicircular grove in
The distance between liquid delivery orifice 105 and ultrasound tip 102 and/or the bottom of groove 108 should be such that drop 106 contacts tip 102 and/or the bottom of grove 108 before drop 108 expands to a size sufficient to break the surface tension of liquid within drop 106. The distance between liquid delivery orifice 105 and tip 102 and/or the bottom of groove 108 is dependent upon the surface tension of the liquid to be atomized and the conformation of liquid delivery orifice 105. However, the distance between liquid delivery orifice 105 and tip 102 and/or the bottom of groove 108 can be experimentally determined in the following manner. Ultrasonic waves are passed through a rod conforming to the intended geometric shape and width of the tip to be utilized. An orifice conforming to the intended conformation of the delivery orifice to be utilized is then placed in close proximity to the rod. The liquid to be atomized is then forced through the orifice with the maximum liquid delivery pressure expected to be utilized. Ideally, the test should be performed within an environment with a pressures bracketing the pressure of the environment in which the system is expected to operate. The orifice is then moved away from the rod until the liquid being ejected from the orifice begins to atomize. The maximum distance between the rod and/or the bottom of any groove within the rod and the delivery orifice will be the point just before the point liquid ejected from the orifice began to atomize. If the orientation of the tip 102 is expected to change during operation of the present invention, the above procedure should be repeated with the rod at several orientations and the shortest distance obtained should be used. If the liquid ejected from the orifice atomize when the orifice is located at the closest possible point to the rod and/or the bottom of any groove within the rod, then the voltage driving the transducer generating the ultrasonic waves traveling through the rod should be increased, the pressure forcing the liquid through the orifice should be decreased, and/or the pressure within the environment increased, and the experiment repeated.
Generally, the droplets of the liquid will be less massive than the material suspended and/or dissolved within the liquid. Consequently, the liquid droplets will generally have a higher departing velocity than the suspended and/or dissolved material. However, both the liquid droplets and the suspended and/or dissolved material will fall-towards the ground or the floor of the device at the same rate. The distance the droplets or suspended and/or dissolved material travel before hitting the ground increases as the velocity at which the droplets or suspended and/or dissolved material leave the radiation surfaces increases. Therefore, the less massive droplets will travel farther than more massive suspended and/or dissolved material real falling to the ground. Thus, the liquid and material suspended and/or dissolved within the liquid may be separated based on the distance away from the ultrasound tips each travels. In addition to separating material on the basis of mass, the present invention may also be utilized to separate material on the basis of boiling point. For instance, if the liquid atomized contains several liquids mixed together, the present invention may be used to separate the liquids. The liquid mixture is first atomized with the ultrasound atomizer of the present invention and injected into an environment with a temperature above the boiling point of at least one of the liquids. For example, assume that the liquid contains ethanol and water and the removal of the water from the ethanol is desired. The liquid containing the mixture of water and ethanol could be injected into an environment with a temperature at or above 78.4° C., the boiling point of ethanol, and below 100° C., the boiling point of water. Atomized into a spray of small droplets, the liquid will quickly approach the temperature of the environment. When the temperature of the liquid reaches the boiling point of ethanol, the ethanol will evaporate out of the small droplets. The droplets may then be collected in a container. The evaporated ethanol may be collected as a gas and/or allowed to condense and collected as a liquid.
The ultrasound atomization and/or separation system of the present invention may also be utilized to combine liquids. If different liquids are delivered to the ultrasound tip, they will combine at the radiation as the liquids are atomized.
In keeping with
As to facilitate production of the spray patterns depicted in
Ultrasonic waves passing through the tip of the ultrasound atomizer may have a frequency of approximately 16 kHz or greater and an amplitude of approximately 1 micron or greater. It is preferred that the ultrasonic waves passing through the tip of the ultrasound atomizer have frequency between approximately 20 kHz and approximately 200 kHz. It is recommended that the frequency of the ultrasonic waves passing through the tip of the ultrasound atomizing/mixing unit be approximately 30 kHz.
The signal driving the ultrasound transducer may be a sinusoidal wave, square wave, triangular wave, trapezoidal wave, or any combination thereof.
Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement that is calculated to achieve the same or similar purpose may be substituted for the specific embodiments. It is to be understood that the above description is intended to be illustrative and not restrictive. Combinations of the above embodiments and other embodiments will be apparent to those having skill in the art upon review of the present disclosure. The scope of the present invention should be determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.
The method of action of the present invention and prior art devices presented herein are based solely on theory. They are not intended to limit the method of action of the present invention or exclude of possible methods of action that may be present within the present invention and/or responsible for the actions of the present invention.
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|International Classification||B05B17/06, B05B1/08, B01F11/02, B01F3/08, B05B13/04|
|Cooperative Classification||B05B17/0676, B01F11/0258, B05B13/0442, B01F3/08, B05B17/0623|